Friday, November 28, 2014

Monarch Butterflies - A Florida Nursery for an Endangered Species

As you know, we spend significant time in Florida every year and while we're there we help nature along as much as possible. We get cuttings from my family's yards (which is an understatement - their yards include 10 acres of gorgeous gardens, and what I affectionately call 'the Amazon forest' when referring to my brother's yard).  Some of our plants include milk weeds which is the only plant that Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on, as well as the only plant the Monarch caterpillars eat before cocooning.

I watched the first group of tiny Monarch caterpillars and, to my horror, saw about 6 killed and eaten by wasps, so I bought milk weed in pots and brought the remaining caterpillars in to my porch to protect them. It became a significant project with 9 chrysalis. Unfortunately, three cocoons failed and with another three the Monarchs' were born deformed and we had to euthanize them. But the last three turned into gorgeous large healthy Monarch butterflies. We have another in chrysalis now and six more baby caterpillars eating their way to being butterflies. It's a magical process to watch up close. Here are some photos of the 'nursery' and butterflies.

                                                         Various stages of chrysalis

                                                      See the three caterpillars on the left?

Two caterpillars here.

                                             The magnificent result of this miraculous transformation.


  1. Absolutely stunning photos! How long are you going to stay in Florida? I bet you are not missing the bad weather back home. We've been really lucky in SoCal with warmth and eternal blue sky, but hoping for some rain next week.

  2. Hey, Nadege, I'll return to France sometime in May, I think, and hopefully, be there for the summer to early fall. Good luck getting some rain in CA - you need it! Happy Thanksgiving. Cynthia

  3. Milkweed is good for many things, including treating warts

  4. Ask before you purchase milkweed from stores ...some of these plants may have been sprayed with insectaside or have had growth hormones applied during growing...both will deform the butterflies....I have asked for the growers phone# and called them prior to ourchasing....I leaned the hard way by having my butterflies born deformed on Milkweed from Home Depot in the past....

  5. @btrfly, yes, you are correct. I learned the hard way. I buy from a grower who swears he never sprays but I had one plant from him and all 8 caterpillars died just an hour after going onto the plant. Now I buy from him, cut the plant down below the leaves and let it grow back before letting the caterpillars on it. In an emergency, I let one caterpillar on and test it before putting others on. I just had 5 of my 38 chrysalis emerge yesterday with an anticipated 5 more today! Yay.